NU.nl – 14th January 2019
Utrecht University investigates Jehovah’s Witnesses’ attitude after abuse
Utrecht University will conduct independent research into sexual abuse within the denomination of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The research focuses on how abuse is dealt with within the church.
It is also being investigated to what extent this attitude influences the willingness of victims to make a report.
The Lower House had insisted for an independent investigation before the summer, following revelations about sexual abuse by the newspaper Trouw .
Minister Sander Dekker (Legal Protection) asked the denomination to start an independent investigation in the first instance, but the community felt nothing for it.
The researchers want to talk with those involved, including members of the board of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Dekker writes to the House of Representatives on Monday.
The university hopes to finish the research in the autumn.
The Public Prosecution Service (OM) decided in August 2018 to conduct a criminal investigation into the abuse within the organization. Last year, several reports of abuse by members of the church were received.
At the end of December, the police raided the denomination to gather evidence.
Worried about dealing with abuses for some time
MPs also expressed concerns last year about the internal case law of closed religious communities. Attje Kuiken (PvdA) and Michiel van Nispen (SP) wanted to know if there are indications that certain groups do not report serious crimes to the police, but only follow the internal procedures.
Dekker checked with Slachtofferhulp Nederland and the organization Sektesignaal. Victim support said most of the victims she spoke to did not have to deal with discouragement.
Sektesignaal can not “say whether only the existence of internal courts has a negative effect on the willingness of victims to report”, says Dekker.
Partly for this reason, it is currently also being examined whether a duty to report sexual abuse is feasible and desirable. “A declaration obligation in case of sexual abuse could be a means to break the closedness”, writes the minister.
This is also separate from the research of Utrecht University.
* all translations provided on JWBulletin.com are for information purposes only and are sourced from automated translation services. These are not checked for accuracy. To ensure accuracy, please refer to the original language text.